Prosecutor drops probe into ’94 airstrike that killed 38 villagers

ISTANBUL (CIHAN)- The military prosecutor’s office of the General Staff has declared that it can no longer pursue a case concerning the killing of 38 villagers by an airstrike in the southeastern province of IIrnak in 1994 because 20 years have passed since the incident, the DoIan news agency (DHA) reported on Thursday.

Tahir Elçi, a lawyer representing the families of the victims, stated that he is planning to appeal the decision of the prosecutor’s office as a violation of the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), which had ordered Turkey to pay a record amount of compensation in the same case. “This decision [by the military prosecutor’s office] is likely to cause a severe crisis between Turkey and the Committee of Ministers of the European Council,” Elçi said, speaking to reporters.

The incident, in which Turkish aircraft killed 38 residents of the KuIkonar and KoçaIIllI villages in IIrnak on March 26, 1994, was initially brought to a DiyarbakIr prosecutor that dealt with counterterrorism crimes. Declaring a lack of competence, the DiyarbakIr prosecutor transferred the case to the military prosecutor’s office in the 2nd Air Force Unit, which declared a lack of jurisdiction and sent the case file to the military prosecutor’s office of the General Staff.

Having received the case with only one month left before the statute of limitations was due to expire, the military prosecutor’s office of the General Staff declared that it would not continue the prosecution on April 9, after having taken some time to examine the case. The prosecutor’s office also stated in its detailed ruling that the evidence pertaining to the investigated incident had not been collected fairly and those responsible for the killings had not been clearly identified.

As per the decision, four military officers, including retired General Hasan KundakçI, who had previously given testimony to the military prosecutor as a suspect in the 1994 airstrike case, will not be prosecuted any further.

In December of 2013, the ECtHR found that Turkey had violated various articles of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in the 1994 bombing of Kurdish villagers. The court ordered Turkey to pay more than 2 million euros in total in fines to the applicants.

(CihanToday’s Zaman)